2015 Goals

Much ass was kicked in 2014, so let’s keep it going in 2015, shall we?

MAGS

1. Run a timed mile. I really have no excuse for not accomplishing this goal in 2014, so let’s do this. Just me, four laps around a track and hopefully no vomiting afterward.

2. Become a pacer. For the past couple years, when someone has asked me the classic “What would you do if you won the lottery?” question, my answer has been that I’d write, perform and be a distance-race pacer. Why a pacer? Because I love running, I’m good at keeping an even pace, and I’m a natural coach. But, you know, I don’t actually need to win the lottery to do that, so I’ve submitted a few applications to various running programs in Chicago. I am going to make it happen, even if it’s in an unofficial capacity. Anyone want help pacing for, say, a sub-hour 10K or sub-2-hour half? Holler at your girl.

3. Qualify for Boston. Yep, here we go again. I fell just short at the Chicago Marathon in October, so I’ve set my sights on the Illinois Marathon in April. Of course, I’m currently injured and don’t know if I’ll even be physically able to train properly for that race (let alone a BQ), so a fall marathon is probably more realistic. We shall see.

AMIE
1. Place third or higher in my age group. I might have to run a small local 5K to do this, but I placed fifth in my age group at the Hudy 14K this year, and I think I could do better.

2. Run a marathon in the 3:30s. It would only be 4 minutes faster than I ran in Columbus this year. This goal feels within reach without having to add major mileage and speedwork, but it would ultimately blow my own mind. And isn’t that why we run?

3. Foster the love of running. My son, Owen, is a natural runner. He runs beautifully and effortlessly, and I plan to include him in some smaller races (to prevent injury since he won’t train) to see where it takes him. Maybe he will want to train for a more serious distance one day, maybe not. But he loves running and I want to plant the seed now, before he grows up and moves away. I can see running being our special bond for a very long time.

AIDZ

1. Run more unplugged miles. I love my Nike+, I do. In fact, coming off of our holiday running streak, I feel like I’m using social media to do exactly what it should do in regards to running — foster a sense of community and serve as a source of motivation. But this year, when I’m not streaking, I’d like to run more undocumented miles. To run by feel. To listen to my body. To just … run.

2. PR at the Bix. I really enjoyed training for the 2014 Bix, and I have a PR to show for it. This year, I’d like to do it again. I’m not going to set any land-speed records here, but goshdarnit, I will beat Brady Street once again.

3. Break the 2-hour barrier. The sub 2-hour half marathon is what you might call my white whale. I was THISCLOSE in Columbus in 2009 (2:01:49), back before I had kids and responsibilities and stuff. But I’m older and wiser, and man, I’d really like a half marathon time with a 1 in front of it. It’s a long haul, and it’ll require me to shave 9 minutes (uh, A LOT) off my 2014 half marathon time, but I think I can do it.

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2014 Goals: How’d We Do?

Can you believe another year has come and gone already? Time flies when you’re kicking ass. Let’s take a look at how we fared with our 2014 goals:

MAGS

1. 10K PR. For real this time, you guys. I had to bail on the Chi-Town 10K last year — and sadly, there aren’t a ton of 10Ks in the area to choose from — so I’m going to give this race another shot.

In a year full of great races and PRs, I think the Chi-Town 10K was my best. I trained well, the weather cooperated, and on top of a huge PR, I won an age group award. Much more than that, it came at the end of a brutal winter, and it gave me the mental boost I needed before I launched into a summer of intense marathon training. (Honestly, the more I consider it, the more I think 10K might be my best race distance. So maybe I should find more of them, huh?)

2. Get 10 minutes closer to Boston. There, I said it. Boston. It’s been on my mind for a long while now. I have a lot of ground to cover to reach that magical marathon qualifying mark, so I’m launching a two-year plan to BQ. If I can knock off 10 minutes in 2014 and 10 minutes in 2015, I can qualify with 5 minutes to spare (which will be crucial in actually signing up for the race in their new tiered registration process). Training starts now, Angels.

A few short weeks after setting this goal, I upped the ante and decided to go all the way for a BQ at the Chicago Marathon in October. I fell just short. However, I met and even exceeded my original goal because I actually got 15 minutes closer to Boston. Huzzah! Silver linings, y’all.

3. Run a timed mile. The combination of my nostalgic mile run post and our mile-a-day holiday running streak has got me itching to run a timed mile. Like, balls-out-want-to-die during-and-throw-up-afterward timed mile. I’ve located a high school track that looks worthy of my efforts, so it’s gonna happen. Mark my words.

Sooooo, yeah. It didn’t happen. During marathon training, I recorded some damn fast miles in the midst of speedwork, but I never went to the track to do just one mile. I twice made plans to do it; once, I bailed because it was too hot, and the second time, I was sick. And then I got hurt. Fart noise. Guess I’ll have to carry this one over into 2015.

AIDZ

1. Run a new race. I’m a creature of habit. I tend to run the same few races, year after year, because I know them and love them. But guess what? It’s good to try new things. Plus, I’ll be at a wedding during my regularly-scheduled Flying Pig, so I need to find another spring race. Since I’ll be running in unfamiliar territory and taking in the sights and sounds, I’m not shooting for the moon. But I would like to run it faster than my last half marathon to kick the racing season off right.

I worked hard last winter and set myself up for success with a PR at the Cincinnati Heart Mini Marathon in March. So when I journeyed to Wisconsin for the Madison Half Marathon, I knew my goals were within reach. I had a blast, set a post-baby PR and have decided that racing in unfamiliar territory is pretty dang awesome. Destination race FTW!

2. Beat the Bix. I had this as a goal for 2013, but a nasty ankle sprain got in the way. So, here we go again. Bix, I’m coming for ya. And I’d like to do it in less than 70 minutes.

I actually logged more miles training for the Bix than I did for either of my half marathons this year (in part, thanks to a peer-pressured “Summer Streak”), and I crossed the finish line in less than 70 minutes, just like I hoped and dreamed that I could. In fact, I beat my goal and PRed by almost 2 minutes. What I didn’t expect was to enjoy training for this race as much as I did. I definitely enjoy “middle” distance races the most, and my sweet spot (and personal threshold for maximum running enjoyment) seems to be in the 6-10 mile zone. Like Maggie, I need to find more races at this distance.

3. Set a Cincy PR. This looks a lot loftier than it actually is since I’ve only run the Cincy Half Marathon once. But I liked it! And I’d like to do it again this fall. Only this time, even faster.

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Sometime late last spring, the Cincy Half Marathon announced that the race would be moving … to the middle of the summer. Ew, no. No. No. NO. I was distraught and upset. I love fall races, and now Cincinnati didn’t have a fall halfer anymore. I didn’t want to travel, and frankly, I was kind of burned out after a jam-packed spring and summer of running.

So I set my sights on the Hudy 14K as my fall race and decided to train smart and enjoy it. I ran the entire race in costume with my husband (he even let me win). I PRed by nearly 2 minutes and decided, what the heck? Maybe I could run a fall half after all. Cincinnati introduced the Queen Bee Half Marathon this year, and with great reservations, I recruited a girlfriend and ran it. And you know what? We loved it. I didn’t PR, but in the end, that wasn’t the point of this race.

AMIE

1. Run an actual race! This year I am going to run at least one race. Maybe I’ll run 10, but I am not even acknowledging summer unless I have a spring race under my belt. Right now I’m planning on the D.C. Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, with my sister-friends from college. It’s in March, so I’m wary of the timing and my nagging sciatica, but I am hopeful. And determined. And that’s an awesome combination.

Yes, yes, yes! I ran SIX races this year, and I’m still feeling good! I’ve had a record year in racing, not in times but in how I felt. I only PRed once, but I was able to do two spring halves (D.C. and Nashville), one summer race (the Hyde Park Blast) and three races this fall (Hudy 14K, Columbus Marathon and the Thanksgiving Day Race) with zero injuries! I’d been plagued with injuries for almost three years, so I was extremely careful and it paid off. I really missed racing, and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2015.

2. Lose the last 10 pounds of baby fat. Seriously. In January, Max turns 2. I am still 10 pounds over my normal weight. Maybe my “normal weight” is too ambitious for my aging metabolism, so I’d honestly be happy with shedding only 5 pounds. And an ab muscle would be a huge bonus.

I forgot that one of my goals included an ab muscle, which cracks me up. I’m happy to announce that I achieved this one too. I have a few ab muscles today and I’m finally back to fighting weight. It feels great and makes running so much easier.

3. Start a Thanksgiving Tradition. This year, I want my family to run the Turkey Trot together. I want us to run it together every year, starting in 2014. And when my big kids move on to start their families, they’ll come back to my house for dinner, having run a 10K, glowing with endorphins and gratitude.

Turkey trots are always fun, but they’re even better when you run with your family. This year we were down a kid, but we soldiered on. My grand plan was to run together, but my son just couldn’t contain his excitement and took off. It was still a blast, and we were home in time to get the turkey in the oven and put our feet up while we waited for family to arrive. I’m looking forward to doing this every year.

(Shoe) Decisions Are Hard

If it ain’t broke …

Inevitably, a week or two before every half marathon I run, my shoes crap out at about 300 miles. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. But when your shoes are done, you KNOW. And I always know right before it’s race time.

This is a frustrating thing because a few weeks before you race is not exactly an ideal time to be breaking in a new pair of shoes. For this reason, I’ve been switching to a new pair of the same model of shoes for a couple of years now. And those shoes — my beloved Brooks Pure Cadence — have been very good to me.

Until recently.

The last pair of Pure Cadence I got felt lovely on first run. I met my spring half marathon goal wearing these shoes, and even PRed at the Bix with these cranberry kicks. But there’s also an ugly secret. My poor, poor toenails have been black and blue since May.

Houston, we have a problem.

Houston, we have a problem.

So when my Nike+ told me we were nearing the mileage capacity for my shoes three weeks out from half marathon time, I was faced with a tough decision. Should I get another pair of Brooks Pure Cadence … or *gasp* try something new?

So off I went to the running store. I found a helpful employee at the local Cincy Fleet Feet and launched into my diatribe. I rapidly rattled off my laundry list of foot issues, running history and other neurotic things that probably made said employee wish someone else had asked to help me first. Then, I tried on no fewer than 12 pairs of shoes. With each pair, I went for a short jog outside. After about an hour and countless short sprints outside of the store, we had whittled down the pile to a new pair of Brooks Cadence (the devil I know) and a pair of Nike Zoom Structure (the wild unknown).

DECISIONS ARE HARD!

But why are they so much harder when it comes to running shoes? I toil and torment and hem and haw over which pair to get. And if I think about it, they’re not all THAT different, and I’m going to need a new pair in a couple of months, anyway. So why do I stress so much about which pair to get?

They’re JUST SHOES.

But they’re not. Running shoes are so much more than just shoes. After all, the wrong running shoe could lead to discomfort, blisters and sometimes, injury. And the right running shoe can make running easier, more effortless and, by extension, more enjoyable. That’s a lot of pressure for one measly pair of shoes, isn’t it?

It almost feels like my running hopes and dreams are figuratively tied into the laces of my shoes, both physically and mentally.

Happy feet.

Happy feet.

So what did I choose? Tried and true (and toenails blue)? Or uncharted territory?

Well, friends, I got crazy and went with something different. I wore my old shoes for the last long training run of the season and broke in the new guys slowly over short runs before the race. And you know what? Different can be good. — Aidz

 

Dueling Race Recap: Bix 7 2014

 

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Big fancy.

As I embarked on my 10th Bix 7 and Maggie on her fifth, I sensed that this race was going to be one for the record books — and not just because we got our sweet commemorative pins. For the first time in, well, ever, I had actually prepared for the Bix, and since Maggie is in the throes of Boston-marathon-qualifying madness, I knew we were both poised to run our best races ever.

But I’ve been running the Bix for a decade now, and I KNOW that it is a tough beast to conquer. The weather, the hills and the evil mind games it plays can break down even the most prepared, seasoned runner.

Pre-race Corrals

Adrea says: For the first time ever, I found myself in the ORANGE start corral. By the numbers, I have absolutely no business being in the orange start corral. I think you’re supposed to be running 7-minute miles or something in this corral. (News flash: I cannot run a 7-minute mile. Not even remotely.) But I know the Bix, and I know how much it sucks to run that first mile at an 11-minute pace in the next corral back, so what the heck, I was up with the capitol R Runners. And you know what? It was pretty awesome. We weren’t too far up in the front, and everyone there looked like … me! Serious, but not so serious that I was going to get run over. Thank goodness. After a few patriotic songs and a sweet flyover from some WWII planes, we were on our way. And lo and behold, they had Jock Jams pumping from two different speakers on the start line. So far, the running gods were smiling on us. In order to PR this race, I just needed to run a little faster than a 10-minute mile. I had trained at race pace, put in the miles and now it was just between me and the hills. Game on.

Maggie says: Entering the race, I knew I could PR, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. The closer we got to the gun going off, though, the more pumped up I became. I’m in the best running shape of my life, so of course I have to PR! Besides, I was finally in the orange corral! And the whole gang was there, so for the first time in a couple years, our whole Bix Crew got to start the race together. Also, it was only the second race this year that I started in a corral with friends. It sure makes the time tick by a lot faster.

 

Take THAT, Brady hill.

Take THAT, Brady hill.

The Brady Hill

Adrea says: Just as we crossed the start line, the sun came out. Uh-oh. I was hoping that the forecasted 91 degrees would come with a side of cloud cover. I cursed the sun, and continued up the hill. I could worry about the stupid sun later. And you know what? The hellacious hill wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Maybe it’s because we were moving up it a bit faster than in years past, but dang, I felt like the Brady beast was over before I knew it. I even snagged a selfie with my buddy, Paul, on the way up. I crossed the first mile marker and my watch said we did it in a record-breaking 9:14. Thanks, orange start corral!

Maggie says: Just six days earlier, I had raced my tuchas off at the Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon, but somehow, my legs still felt surprisingly great. I didn’t want to jinx it, but I found myself thinking this was the easiest the Brady Hill had ever felt. (TRAINING WORKS, YOU GUYS. Imagine that!) When my watch chimed with an 8:45 first mile, I did a double take. It was a full minute faster than last year’s first mile — so even if I ran the rest of the race at the exact same pace as last year, I’d easily PR. That took a little pressure off.

 

The Kirkwood Slide

Adrea says: Despite a raging case of cotton mouth, I was feeling great. Just as we started down the gentle decline, my husband, Keith, sped ahead of me, so I stuck with my college roomie, Katy. I had sensed that Keith would ditch me during this race since he wasn’t pushing a double stroller with two small-but-not-that-small humans in it like he does for all of our training runs. No less, I was sad to see him go because I knew that when I started to lose steam, Katy wouldn’t shame me into sucking it up the way Keith would. Oh well. The sun had tucked back behind a nice overcast sky, and hey! There was my friend, Joanna, and her cute kids cheering us on. Woohoo! Meb Keflezighi flew by us on the left side of the road, looking strong, and I felt inspired. A few minutes later, Joan Benoit cruised by us, and I felt honored to be following the footsteps of these legends. Miles two and three flew by and we passed the 5K mark in about 28 minutes, so I was actually ahead of schedule. But I knew that the hard part of the race was yet to come …

Maggie says: I settled into a comfortably hard pace and kept chugging along. For a split second, I even considered diving onto the slip-n-slide on the grassy median. Hang on a second. Was I having fun? Yes, yes I was.

McClellan Hill 

Adrea says: Coming up this steep hill hurt. And it hurt bad. My legs burned, and my lungs were on fire. But as soon as it got to be too much to handle, it was over, and we were headed downhill again. Katy and I saw Maggie pass by us near the halfway mark as we grabbed some water and turned aroun to go back up that goshdang hill. Just as we were about to hit the summit, I whined and groaned, and a woman patted me on the shoulder and said, “Doing great!” as she came to the top with us. Katy cheerfully reminded me “we’ve only got 3 miles left!” but it wasn’t much of a boost because experience was working against me. I knew we were just about to start a slow 1.75-mile climb.

Maggie says: My strategy was to situate myself on the very inside and watch the fast folks speeding down the hill on the other side to take my mind off the giant hill ahead of me. It worked. I powered my way to the top with nary a complaint, easily navigated the turnaround and stayed to the inside to now keep my eyes peeled for Adrea, Keith and Katy. After waving to the gals (no Keith in sight), I hit the big ol’ downhill. I eased off the gas just a little so as not to completely shred my legs for the upcoming Slow March of Death. I know better than that now.

The Slow Climb

Maggie, Bix 2014Adrea says: Ugh. I. Hate. This. Part. For a decade solid, I have questioned my enthusiasm for the Bix as I march up this section. It’s hot, I’ve just run a bunch of hills, and this part is generally the nail in my coffin. I slogged my two slowest miles of the race here, at about 10:30. — NOT on race pace. And I knew it. I didn’t even need my Garmin to tell me I was dragging ass. But it was really all I had, so there wasn’t much I could do to change it at this point. Just. Keep. Moving. It came as a small validation when I got home from the race and watched it on DVR, to see that when Meb hit this section of the race, he faltered, cramped up and barfed at mile six. Meb, I feel you, dude. I, too, have barfed at mile six.

Maggie says: This part of the course is a real bitch. You know what made it better, though? Jock Jams. Specifically, “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa. Behold the power of music. I also snagged a bag of ice from an unofficial aid station and poured a couple cubes down the front and back of my sports bra. I put the remainder in my hat — all without missing a step. Damn, I’m good. I then fixed my gaze on the right side of the road to spot Adrea’s parents and two daughters. I saw the munchkins rocking the new shirts I bought them at the RnR Expo and stopped to give them both high-fives. Twenty seconds well spent.

Brady Street, Part Two

Adrea says: As Katy and I turned back onto Brady Street for the final mile, I knew if I wanted to PR, I was going to have to bust a move. Katy assured me we could do it. Sure, easy for her to say. She’s, like, fast and stuff. I thought back to my training, to those negative splits I ran on the trail, and assured myself that I could do it. All I had to do was hold it together for another mile. I kept checking my watch frantically, and every time I looked down, it told me I was going faster.

Maggie says: La la la la la, downhill, yay! I skipped the last water stop because I was feeling strong, and I settled into a familiar picking-people-off mode. I glanced at my watch, and I was easily on track for a PR and then some. Another unofficial aid station was passing out Fla-Vor-Ice (pro tip: next time, cut them in half!). A man in his 40s ahead of me looked like a kid who dropped his ice cream cone when he noticed he had missed the icy treats. I laughed out loud.

The Finishing Stretch

Adrea says: I felt like my legs were running by themselves, as though not attached my body. They were just going. Katy kept pointing out people we could beat, and we kept flying by them. That last stretch is a looong quarter-mile dash, and we plowed through it and barreled through the finish line. I punched my watched and looked down. 1:08:04. I had PRed by almost two minutes. And then I promptly doubled over and peed my pants. Getting old is hard.

Maggie says: OK, fine, the last quarter-mile hurt. After that long downhill, the straightaway to the finish is a real beast. I threw up some horns and a smile and pushed to the end. 56:02, a spot-on 8-minute pace. Oh, and if you’re keeping track at home, this makes it five PRs in five race distances (5K, 8K, 10K, 7-mile, half marathon) for me in 2014. Boom goes the dynamite. 

 

Owned it.

Owned it.

Final Thoughts

Adrea says: What an awesome day at the races! I am so happy to say that for the first time in years, I was actually excited to check my official time in the newspaper Sunday morning. Shoot, I even beat some people this year. That’s a rarity for this ol’ gal. I’d also like to give huge props to my friend, Lindsay, who GAVE BIRTH a mere 8 weeks ago and finished the race in 50-something, placing in the top 100. This woman is still on maternity leave, people. Sheesh! It all goes to show that everything’s relative when it comes to the Bix. And everyone who conquers that beast has something to boast about. Let’s do it again next year. I can’t wait!

Maggie says: I definitely didn’t push as hard as I could’ve because getting hurt isn’t one of my lofty 2014 goals. That said, there’s a part of me that wonders just how fast I could’ve done the Bix this year if I hadn’t just clobbered that half marathon. No matter. This turned out to be my favorite Bix and favorite Bix weekend ever. We even got medals to commemorate the 40th anniversary of this kickass community race. See you July 25, 2015!

– Aidz and Mags

 

Race Day Playlist: Bix 7 2014

For last year’s Bixtivities, Maggie and I compiled a dual playlist of guilty pleasures, and it was seven miles of pure ear candy. How could we possibly top it this year? Well this year, my friends, we were inspired by Jock Jams.

I dusted off my trusty ol’ CD case, found these relics and toiled over which cheesy awesomeness would and wouldn’t make the cut. I can’t wait to run up Brady Street to “Llllllllet’s get ready to rummmblllllle!” blaring in my earbuds. My 15-year-old self is giddy with joy. — Aidz

Playlist stats: 20 songs, 1:08 total time

1. Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! — Michael Buffer
2. Get Ready 4 This — 2 Unlimited
3. Mo Money, Mo Problems — The Notorious B.I.G.
4. Strike It Up — Black Box
5. Jump Around — House of Pain
6. Come Baby Come — K7
7. Gridiron Groove — Unknown
8. Gonna Make You Sweat — C+C Music Factory
9. Hip Hop Hooray — Naughty By Nature
10. Pump Up The Jam — Technotronic
11. Unbelievable — EMF
12. Twilight Zone — 2 Unlimited
13. Rock And Roll Part 2 — Gary Glitter
14. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) — Backstreet Boys
15. Push It — Salt-N-Pepa
16. Ready to Go — Republica
17. No Diggity — Blackstreet
18. Robbi Rob’s Boriqua Anthem — C+C Music Factory
19. Cotton Eye Joe — Rednex
20. Mueve la Cadera — Reel 2 Real

 

Throwback Thursday

My First Race

If you’re from the Quad Cities, the Bix is so much more than a hilly seven-mile race. It’s an event. It’s a holiday. It’s a reunion. Most of all, it’s a rite of passage.

Every summer growing up, on the hottest Saturday in July, I’d wake up unreasonably early (especially for a teenager) and line up with my family on Kirkwood Boulevard to cheer on the thousands of runners as they turned off the infamous Brady Street hill.

As a four-sport athlete who was always “in season” for something, I was never really “allowed” to run the Bix. I’d boastfully claim that I could “totally run that” as I watched people of all shapes and sizes stream past my cheering section, and I knew that someday, SOMEDAY, I would conquer the beast.

photo-42Fast forward to 2003. It was my last summer at home. I was heading back to Saint Louis University in the fall for my senior year, and I was already planning my wedding for the following spring. I’d spent my previous college summers recovering from knee and ankle surgeries, but this year, I had no excuses — and no other sports to get in my way.

The only thing standing between me and the Bix was, well, me.

It was time to see what I was made of.

I signed up for the Bix with my dad, neither of us ever really having run more than a handful of consecutive miles. We ran a 5K early on in our training, and my dad stopped around mile two to barf in the bushes. Oh boy, we really had out work cut out for us.

I remember the first day I went for an hour-long run. I’d never run that far before, and it didn’t feel at all like I had expected. Instead of feeling exhausted, I felt energized, accomplished and capable. And I started to think that, by golly, I was going to DO this. I was going to RUN THE BIX.

The night before the race, I’m not sure I slept a wink. I was too nervous. The next morning, we drove down to the race ridiculously early. My dad has always been a “hurry up to wait” kinda guy, and I’m the same way. But it left us plenty of time to weave through the throngs of people and find our way to the appropriate start corral.

bix1Crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of sweaty strangers, we sang the national anthem and a helicopter whizzed over our heads. And just like that, we were off.

I don’t remember a lot about the actual race. I remember wanting to quit around mile five (oddly, the same place I want to quit every year I run the Bix), seeing my mom and brother shortly after that, and surging with new-found energy the last mile of the race.

I had done it. I had run the Bix.

It seems poetic that I’d share this rite of passage with my dad on the eve of college graduation, my first big-girl job and married life. For me, this first race — this first real race — was a true coming of age. It was a passage to adulthood, and my dad was there every step of the way, until I was ready to spread my wings and fly on my own through the last mile.

I’ve come back home every summer since that first Bix and to run it again. I’ve been in the best shape of my life, the worst shape of my life, pregnant, a new mom, injured, healthy, and everything in between. This year, I’ll run my 10th Bix.

I can hardly wait. — Aidz

2013: How Did We Do?

report_card_30We’ve been through a lot this year, Angels. The question is: how did we stack up against our 2013 goals?

MAGS

1. Set a 10K PR: I haven’t truly “raced” a 10K since my first year as a runner, when I made great progress and recorded a 52:09 at the Mercy Metric 10K on Labor Day 2009 in Cincinnati. It was good enough for a medal and second place in my age group (a very small race indeed). But, seeing as how I have now run a half marathon at a faster clip, I feel confident I can crush my PR at the Chi-Town 10K in March — the site of my aforementioned half marathon PR.

A couple weeks before the race, I was taken down hard by a sinus infection, and I wound up skipping the 10K altogether (as I later blogged about). I don’t regret my choice to bail, but I do know I have some unfinished 10K business to take care of. Maybe 2014 will be the year.

2. Run the Boilermaker 15K: As described in my origin story, the Boilermaker was the first big road race I ever experienced up close, and it’s definitely on my race “bucket list.” This is the year I finally cross it off. Maybe my appearance there will even garner a blurb in the Utica Observer-Dispatch sports section, where I toiled as an intern and copy editor. (Hint, hint, guys.)

I crossed this big little race off the running life list on one helluva hot Sunday in July. Hilly and packed with spectators, I got the job done and even had some fun along the way. I also stand by my assertion that the post-race party is the best I’ve ever experienced. If you have the means, I highly recommend adding this race to your calendar.

3. Break one hour at the Bix 7: I’ve come so damn close the last two years! Missed it by 34 seconds last year and 17 seconds the year before. I’ve also gotta keep my streak of beating Bad Angel Keith alive. Whatdya say, Beatty?

Helped in no small part by a bizarrely unseasonable 50-something-degree July day, I crushed my Bix PR and easily finished under an hour. OK, “easily” is probably the wrong word. It was still a damn hard race, and I worked my tail off to do it. And, double bonus, I kept my winning streak against Bad Angel Keith in tact. BEST RACE OF 2013!

OVERALL: As a wise man (Meatloaf) once said, two out of three ain’t bad. It was a difficult year for me, but the races on my calendar gave me something to look forward to along the way. I have big things in mind for 2014, and I’ve already started making adjustments in order to keep improving as a runner and as a person. Stay tuned …

AIDZ

1. Tackle the Pig: I’ll be a few months post-baby, so this will be my first race outta the gate for 2013. I learned my don’t-bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew lesson after attempting a half marathon too quickly after my first daughter. So this year, I’m going to go whole hog on the Flying Pig 10K.

I was very, very, VERY tempted to run the Flying Pig Half since I had trained up to 12 miles, but I wisely stuck with the 10K and had a great race. I prepared properly, ran the race I wanted and kicked my post-baby running season off right.

2. Beat the Bix: My last few Bix 7 attempts have been either run pregnant or out-of-shape post-baby, so this year, I’d like to RUN run it. Breaking 70 minutes would make me pretty damn happy, but I’ll set an official time goal as we get closer to the hottest weekend in July.

This year’s Bix didn’t turn out quite as I had planned. I had a fool-proof training plan, and on the first official day of training, I tripped down a curb and sprained the daylights out of my ankle. No less, I ran a solid race — and even pleasantly surprised myself with my time (even though it wasn’t the original time I had set out to run).

3. Really Run a Halfer: I’ve half-assed the last few half marathons I’ve participated in, and this year (since I’m done having babies for a good long while), I’d really like to properly train and run a half marathon. I’ve got my sights set on the Columbus Half Marathon in October, which is the site of my half marathon PR in 2008. I’m also hoping to bring Bad Angel Sara along to run her first half mary.

I ran the Cincinnati Half Marathon instead of Columbus, and it was a great decision. Despite some of the lousiest race weather I’ve ever run in, I ran my fastest half marathon since I started cranking out babies four years ago.

OVERALL: I’m really happy with how my year in running turned out. I bounced back much faster from pregnancy than I anticipated (which I think helped me deal with life as a mother of two), and have figured out how to work regular weekly runs into my new routine. More than anything, I finally feel — for the first time in years — that my body is MINE again, and I look forward to what 2014 will bring.

AMIE

1. Run four times a week: I realize that this doesn’t sound very challenging, but with my schedule, it really is. (I won’t go into it; your brain would explode.)

I had weeks of achieving this goal, then it would putter out. Then another six weeks of success! Then it would wither and die. Looking back, I’m proud that I was able to fit in as much running as I did, I even revived the early-morning run, which was essential in the hot months. I helped my daughter prepare for soccer try-outs by running ‘stinkers’ with her (ugh, hard!), I had a rock-solid running routine all summer that included weekly downtown runs, and even incorporated a date-night run to motivate my hubby to get back out there. It was all going great until September…

2. Record a PR at the Flying Pig Half: Not a half marathon PR, but a Flying Pig half marathon PR. This race is one of the most challenging I’ve ever run. So, I plan to bust out the hill repeats and beat my best time. For now, I’ll say a 1:50.

Well, I have no excuses. I just didn’t run the Pig this year. I tried to remember why I didn’t do it, but nothing comes to mind. I think I just let life get in the way. Apathy toward racing all spring and summer, then I vowed to run a half in the fall.

3. Race a half marathon in the fall: I have a sneaking suspicion that my PR (1:39) is behind me, but I can still race. A 1:45 would be lovely.

I decided to run the Cincy Half (with the other Angels), and training was going great! I was gaining speed, feeling great and ready for a ‘flat’, fast halfer to add to the books. Then I did that 10-miler (I know, you’re all tired of hearing about it), but it literally changed everything. I am still out nursing my injuries, unable to run more than 3-4 miles without pain. I’m even hitting the pool, hoping to gain some fitness and relieve some pain. And I hate swimming. Loathe.

OVERALL: I will refer to 2013 as “the Year of Injury and Race Apathy.” Looking back, I had very little motivation to race in 2013. I also endured a lot of stress throughout the year, which no doubt contributed to my overall physical ability and well-being. The irony is that running is my primary stress-reliever, so to be out for an extended time is tricky. It’s hard to rest and heal when all I want to do is run. I am doing everything under the sun to get well, so I’m hopeful that 2014 will be a kick-ass year full of PRs and flashing horns.